Lahore: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
has declared a dengue outbreak in Pakistan`s Punjab province
as an "epidemic" and announced the formation of a Coordination
and Strategy Cell to help control vectors and infectious
"The relevant departments should strengthen the disease
early warning system to meet challenges posed by epidemics
like dengue," Gilani said.
With four more deaths due to dengue in Lahore yesterday,
the death toll has risen to over 50.
However, officials insist that the death toll in Punjab
is only 25 and the remaining are "suspected dengue deaths".
Gilani yesterday convened a "national conference on
dengue response" in Punjab capital Lahore to send out a
message that the federal and provincial governments were
working together to fight the virus.
"Though after the 18th (constitutional) amendment, health
is not a federal subject, the federal government will continue
extending its cooperation to the provinces in combating
diseases and epidemics," Gilani said while addressing the
He further said there is an urgent need to develop a
national coordination mechanism to control diseases and
epidemics like dengue.
The coordination and strategy cell will be instrumental
in mobilising resources and harmonization of efforts by the
federal government, provincial health departments and
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of the PML-N, however, did
not agree with the premier that Punjab was getting full
cooperation from the centre in health matters.
"After the 18th amendment, the federal government had not
fully cooperated (with the Punjab government)," he said.
Punjab Governor Latif Khosa, a senior leader of the
Pakistan People`s Party, earlier blamed the Punjab government
for not taking concrete measures to deal with dengue but
changed his tone at the conference and praised the Chief
Minister’s efforts to fight the virus.